Nutanix Exec: We're Mulling Subscription-Based Software For Service Providers, Enterprises

Nutanix is considering selling its software-only version of its hyper-converged infrastructure to service providers and large enterprises, one of the startup's executives said Wednesday.

Nutanix may sell its software to those customers via subscription or through enterprise licensing agreements, Sudheesh Nair, Nutanix's senior vice president of worldwide sales and alliances, said in a keynote Wednesday at the company's partner conference in Miami.

This would be a big change for Nutanix, San Jose, Calif., which currently only sells its software preinstalled on Supermicro servers. Dell sells Nutanix software on its PowerEdge servers through an OEM agreement.

[Related: Nutanix Unveils Own Hypervisor, Aligns With Microsoft For Data Center Battle With VMware]

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Selling hyper-converged software to service providers and enterprises could help Nutanix put pressure on Palo Alto, Caif.-based VMware, which is well-entrenched in the service provider and large enterprise space.

"We're not afraid of competing in a software-only world," Nair said at the event, without giving a time frame for when Nutanix might roll out a software-only offering.

Tal Klein, vice president of strategy at Lakeside Software, a Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based firm whose SysTrack analytics software is often sold in conjunction with Nutanix, said the subscription model is gaining lots of traction with service providers.

"We’re seeing a lot of our service provider and system integrator partners ask to migrate to SaaS-style, subscription-based licensing as well," Klein told CRN. "This makes it easier to true-up, and that way, we get to monitor utilization while they only pay for what they consume."

If Nutanix does roll out a software-only offering, that would up the stakes in its intensifying competition with VMware. Earlier this week, Nutanix unveiled its own KVM-based hypervisor along with technology that converts VMware virtual machines to KVM and Microsoft Hyper-V formats.

Nutanix also is pitching its hypervisor as a way for customers to save money they might otherwise spend on VMware licensing.

"We want to give customers alternatives to what they're using today. It's an opportunity for them to minimize what's commonly referred to as a virtualization tax," Greg Smith, senior director of products and technical marketing at Nutanix, told CRN last week.